A series of recent bus crashes have led for calls to improve the safety of the entire bus industry. Last year a serious crash in New York resulted in multiple fatalities and serious injuries, and just this week two people died in a Montana bus accident.
Texas bus accidents have also resulted in deaths. One of the most serious occurred close to Sherman in 2008, when 17 riders from Houston were killed.
Although a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found a tire problem was responsible for the Texas crash, driver fatigue has been a common factor in a number of serious bus crashes. This has prompted reform efforts aimed at preventing driver fatigue and reducing the amount of hours bus drivers spend behind the wheel.
This past Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted a hearing in Grapevine that addressed the issue of driver fatigue. Some bus company owners expressed that efforts should target enforcement, while many drivers felt changes needed to be made to reduce the amount of time they are allowed to drive without sleep.
Bus drivers may work up to 10 hours in a 15 hour shift, but the catch is that the 15 hours aren’t required to be consecutive. Freight drivers, however, are allowed to operate up to 11 hours in a 14 hour consecutive window before having a required 10 hours off.
Some would like to see the rule for bus drivers mimic the rule for commercial truckers to ensure bus drivers can get sufficient long periods of rest.
Hopefully new efforts will improve the safety of bus transit considering almost 750 million passenger trips happen each year, and that number is only growing.